A shady corner in life can be a dark and mysterious place, but in the shady corners of the mind the mystery and darkness know no bounds!
In a struggle with his conscience and haunted by images of murder David is given a choice to right the wrongs of his past.
Can he cheat fate and avoid his future?
Or is the evil that dwells within him more than it seems?
Only one thing is certain fate can be cruel, but true evil can be brutal!
The Corpse in the Kitchen – Part I
AUGUST 6th 1999
David, normally a very calm and rational man, sat in a shaded kitchen corner, drops of perspiration dripping down the imperfections of his face, briefly clinging to each bristle as they slid towards his chin. A sense of fear hung in the close stagnant air. It pertained to his own fear, a fear of himself, unable to comprehend his actions.
He sat, his eyes squeezed shut, his body still, almost statuesque except for the odd involuntary shudder and the shallow but rapid chest expansion. His hands were clammy and sore, and tightly gripped within them was an object that seemed somehow familiar to him. It was a large, heavy, metal object, a statue perhaps, but very square and not too detailed. He ran his hands along its polished length, without lending a thought to what it was that he was touching; too preoccupied thinking about what he’d done, and why he had done it.
A cold shudder of remorse rattled through his body and his eyes began to open. Squinting at first, he saw a flash of brilliant white light that seemed to pierce his eyeballs, as they emerged from behind their swollen lids. As the light faded, his brow began to buckle and the image of horror was unveiled. “Jesus,” he cried out, squirming further into the corner. Did I really do this? Am I dreaming? This can’t be real! He thought, shutting his eyes in disbelief.
David began muttering to himself. “Wake up David. Please wake up!” His desperate words, a whisper amid the tense atmosphere. This has to be real, he thought, and that smell; it’s so strong, it’s making me sick. He tried to stand, but remained still; cemented in place by his terror. His pulse quickened with every breath that he took, and his heart was trying to break free from his body as it pounded. His pores were now free flowing like open wounds, soaking his clothes, and then he let out a sound, not a scream or a profanity, just a pathetic, tearful whimper. His tear ducts began to swell, prying open his eyelids, forcing him to gaze upon the horrendous eyesore again. As he looked his entire body tensed, every muscle contracted ready to rive, the pain was unbearable; but he was awash with helplessness, there was nothing he could do.
Unable to stomach the sight before him, he looked down at the object in his hands. It was a sculpture, a brass sculpture wet with blood, similar to a totem pole, but square in section and plainly decorated with five granite-like faces, spiralling from top to base. Every edge was either sharp or pointed, its razor-like form had torn his hands to shreds. Noticing these wounds made him aware of the pain they were causing him. The sculpture dropped on to the blood soaked tiles, shattering them as it hit, and he raised his hands to his face. A sea of red covered his palms, but oddly this seemed to relax him a little, focusing his attention away from the horror within the room on to the agonising sensation that was biting his nerves.
As he watched the blood ooze from his fingers, he flexed them back and forth, his tendons writhing in the blood, like worms in soil. The sight made him feel dizzy and nauseous, and he slumped down into the shady corner once again, his body now limp and weak. After a moment’s stillness he noticed a ray of sunshine cast its light upon his boot, he raised his head and peered across the room. The horror that had earlier repulsed him was now far clearer than before, shards of light ensnared it with crosshatched shadows from the windowpane.
A scarlet corpse lay on the tiles, still twitching in the sunlight, blood soaked flesh hung loosely from the bones, in small ragged pieces. David figured it was a woman’s body, but otherwise unidentifiable. Her lower limbs the only part of her not beaten beyond recognition. “Oh God! What have I done?” he sobbed, “I couldn’t have done this, I don’t even know who she is?” David raised his hands to cover his mouth, he could taste the blood as it seeped past his lips, wetting his dry palate. The woman’s torso was a mass of torn flesh and fabric engulfed with blood, her rib cage was smashed open exposing her lungs to the sun, slowly cooking them, steaming them with its heat. Her skull was shattered, its splintered fragments protruded through the torn flesh on her face and one of her eyeballs lay ruptured on her cheek, still attached by the optic nerve, the clear bloodstained jelly running down towards the floor. Several flies buzzed and hovered about her pulverised corpse, homing in on its stink. A couple of the flies fed in her cranial cavity, like desert vultures on a carcass.
The image David could see caused him to heave bile up into his mouth, washing against the back of his teeth, only to be swallowed again, along with the blood, leaving him with a burning sensation the length of his throat. Still sitting, his throat aflame, he scanned the room for an exit, to find only one - the doorway blocked by the corpse.
I’ve got to get out of here, but how? I can’t go near the body, he thought, petrified by its presence, denying the fact that he had killed her. “The window,” he said quietly, as he picked himself up from the floor, and stood gently swaying in a daze. David saw himself reflected in the stainless steel cooker hood, “this isn’t right,” he whispered as he stared at his reflection, “this isn’t me!” He saw an older man in his reflection, older by at least twenty years, maybe more. The man in the reflection had a blood-stained face, with beads of sweat cascading towards his sagging jowls, baggy sacs beneath his eyes and grey hair, far longer than his own. David blinked very deliberately, trying to adjust his focus, but the same man stared back at him from the reflected image. He lifted his hands to his neck and tugged at the loose skin, the reflection did likewise. “What’s happening? What the fuck is going on?” he screamed before dropping to his knees in dismay.
The corpse in the doorway was at the back of his mind for now, David had a new focal point for his thoughts; the man in the reflection, who was he? And why had he replaced David’s image?
David continued to kneel on the hard, stony surface of the tiles; it hurt his knees to do so, but he didn’t care, not with his sanity teetering on the edge. His mind was full of so many questions, with no hope of any answers. His thoughts were swimming frantically around making his head throb and pound as if it were a football on match day. He couldn’t pin down a logical notion of what was going on in this Hadean room, he only knew he had to get out, get free, if only to preserve his state of mind. The window, he thought, it re-emerged from the scrambled mess in his mind, making itself heard. David sprang to his feet, his knees cracked, and he turned to the sunlit release, stepping towards it with a desperate hope.
Reaching out he grabbed the window latch, but his attempts to turn it were foiled by its lock. “The key,” he muttered, his voice stricken with panic, “where the fuck is the key?” He glanced around the vicinity of the window, running his hands feverishly along the sill and around the frame, then he realised, he knew where it was kept, he didn’t know why, but he knew. He turned around and there it was, hanging on a silver hook the room’s length away, by the door, by the corpse. “No!” He screamed, turning back to the window, thumping it with his disfigured fists, leaving bloody marks on the glass and the lead beading. Minutes passed as he continued to pound the window, the pain in his hands numb from his panic. Then he stopped, and just gazed through the glass; his hope had gone, and a feeling of exhaustion began to caress his tired limbs.
Outside there was lush green grass that seemed to stretch on forever, broken only by trees and plants. The view was not dissimilar to that of a wildlife preserve, small scurrying animals busied themselves and no human interference seemed evident. David continued to gaze through bloody marks on the windowpane, the warmth from the sun on his face was refreshing, a pleasant, dry heat, not close and sticky like the room in which he stood. He looked up into the sky and sighed, exhaling his fears and his confusion. The new rays from the summer sun washed over him like a waterfall, invigorating and clean.
He placed his hands in the sink and ran the cold tap; the water stung him as it patted his tattered palms. He withdrew them sharply from the flow, and then eased them back in and out very carefully, rinsing away the blood. David stopped staring through the window and began scanning the worktops for something with which he could dress his wounds. Perfect, he thought, noticing a tatty old tea towel before reaching across to grab it. The towel quickly became red with blood as he tore it into strips and tightly wrapped it around his hands and fingers. Wincing with pain, he managed to slow the circulation and reduce the blood flow to a drip.
David’s head was clearer now, his heart still pounded with a fierce intensity, but he was a little more controlled than before.
Knowing that the only way out was the doorway left him with a sense of dread; he’d have to get passed the corpse to escape. The woman who lay brutally murdered by his own hands was there, behind him, he could smell her, her severed tissue sweating in the torrid sunlight, bringing forth a fetid aroma, not unlike burning flesh.
“Right, now just turn around and go,” he said to himself, “don’t stop, just keep on going!” His voice grew a little louder. At that he pivoted on his heels and strode towards the door, looking straight ahead into the next room, beyond the doorway. Click, click, click, the noise his boots made on the tiles was clear and crisp as he marched forward, nearing the corpse. He tried to refrain from looking down, but he heard the sound change from one of footsteps on a tiled floor to that of splashing in puddles, he knew exactly what it was, yet could not prevent himself, he tilted his head and stared straight at her face.
David now stood a foot away from her, a foot from this stomach-churning vision and he felt a wave of fear rip through him, his body quivered uncontrollably. Yet he remained standing over her, staring at her, terrified. Against his better judgement he began to study her, study her wounds, as if he were an art critic. He was scared yet excited, adrenaline pumping through his veins. He pictured himself astride her, mercilessly beating her in cold blood with the brass sculpture, savagely pounding at her face and chest while she cried out in agony and begged him to stop, but he wouldn’t, he continued until finally, silence. At that moment David retched from the pit of his stomach, spraying vomit into the mix of blood and bone. A feeling of guilt shot through him shattering every nerve in his body, and he fled from the room, sick with compunction.
David now lay face down on the floor, the carpet cushioning his cheek. While running from the kitchen he had tumbled over, landing on a glass coffee table, shattering it. He was relieved to be out of the room, a massive weight had been lifted from him and for a moment he felt free. This feeling, however, was short lived as he soon began replaying recent events in his mind and a conflict began to rise, “why did I look at her? Why even stop?” he questioned himself. “Shit! I nearly fucking enjoyed it!” His words echoed around the room. “Who the hell is she? Do I even know her?” He wept, his bandaged hands pressing his temples.
He felt a dull ache in his right leg as he lay still, trying to figure things out, for that brief moment while he looked at her, he had felt pleased with himself, but why? Why take that moment to admire his work? It made no sense to him, “I am, I’m going nuts!” He wept.
The pain in his leg grew from dull and faint, to sharp and excruciating, as he rolled himself over from his belly to his back screaming several vulgarities. Looking at his leg he found the source of his pain, a large fragment of smoky brown glass was embedded deep in his thigh, so deep that it had cut right through his flesh to emerge the other side. His footprints had formed a trail from the kitchen, and spots of blood followed that trail, growing larger as the footprints faded. Giddy from exertion, yet still painfully conscious, David’s life seemed to be dripping away through his wounds, without sound his essence was soaking into the floor beneath him.
All he could do as he lay there was loll his head from side to side and clench his teeth in pain; he looked around the room for a focal point, something to scrutinise. He noticed a calendar on the wall, a beautiful calendar made from strips of wicker bound together with ribbon, giving it a scroll-like appearance. Painted on it was a picturesque landscape, with a wooden oriental type building overlooking a waterfall. Fresh clear water gracefully flowed over the edge into a sea of tropical blue. Above the picture in bold black figures, was the year, ‘2024’ and at the bottom of the calendar there were yellow tear-off strips with the days and months on. Scribbled in, as today’s date, was June 12th. “That’s wrong,” David muttered to himself, shaking his head, “and it’s nineteen ninety-nine,” at that he passed out into a dreamless sleep.
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